'RCC's Cancer Care Scheme Needs More Awareness'
On Apr 07, 2010
Thirty-five thousand people contract cancer in Kerala every year. Out of these, only around 13,000 people visit the Regional Cancer Center (RCC) in Trivandrum, says Surendran Chunakara, Public Relations Officer, RCC.
Only 50 per cent of these people get completely cured. Many parents lose their children; siblings lose their brothers and sisters. So many kids are left orphans. Every year. After spending all they have for the treatment, they are still not able to save their dear ones. Many families go bankrupt fighting cancer.
"We all know about cancer, but only a few of us are aware of the money that is involved in it. There are so many poor people who come here who cannot afford the huge amount needed for treatment," Surendran says.
The RCC follows a category-based policy for billing its patients. About 50 of the patients are categorised as 'F' (Free), and these patients from socio-economically poor background enjoy free treatment. But they still have to spend some amount for the medication. The next category called 'M' (Minimum) covers 30 per cent of the patients and they are liable to pay around 40 to 50 per cent of the expense. The remaining 20 per cent are categorised as 'O' (Ordinary) and they are required to pay the whole amount.
CANCER CARE FOR LIFE
But a less-known scheme of the RCC is what is known as 'Cancer Care For Life', launched in 1986. But only five to six lakh people have registered for it. “You pay Rs.101 to enter into the scheme and if you contract the disease after two years, all the expense will be covered by the centre. But in 1992, the scheme was modified,” says Surendran. Now the scheme works as follows:
You can download the form from the RCC website www.rcctvm.org and get a demand draft.
The RCC in Trivandrum was founded in 1981, along with five other cancer centres across India. "Our goal is not just cancer treatment. We hope to control the disease as much as possible because 30 per cent of the cases could be prevented,” Surendran adds. "Another 30 per cent is completely curable through treatment. For the rest of the patients, we try to give them quality life in their last days through palliative care, and make the death as easy and painless as possible.”
He says that the RCC conducts awareness programmes through the media, through camps and classes and articles, to work on its goal of preventing the disease. For treatment, there is a multi-disciplinary system which is a comprehensive treatment covering the different therapies and surgeries associated with it. There are also hi-tech treatment facilities like Micro Vascular Tissue Transfer, Radio Therapy and Bone Marrow Transplantation.
While the fast pace of life has adversely affected people with their food habits and lifestyles inviting health problems, technology has helped to increase the number of curable patients every year. “When I came here 20 years ago, only 20 per cent of the child patients could be cured. But now we go up to 80 per cent," Surendran adds.
One of the reasons for the high number of reported cases of cancer in the state is the early detection facilities here, adds an official at the government health services, who does want to be named. “Unlike in other states, life expectancy in Kerala is high, hence more number of people are reported to have cancer,” he says. “In the West also the number of cancer patients is high because of the high life expectancy,” he adds.
The RCC launched its Community Oncology Division in 1984.